English Professor Publishes Article in Children's Literature Association Quarterly

by Public Relations | Mar 22, 2018

March 22, 2018

Dr. Sara LindeyDr. Sara Lindey, associate professor of English at Saint Vincent College, has published a peer-reviewed article, “Sentimental and Redemptive Girlhood in the Abolitionist Adaptation of Susanna Maria Cummins’s The Lamplighter,” in the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly’s Spring 2018 edition (Volume 43, Number 1). It is available online at http://muse.jhu.edu/article/686671.

 “This article charts new territory in coining a vocabulary around girlhood,” Lindey commented. “This essay exposes how mid-19th-century fictional girls play powerful roles in the era’s political activism. There are two types of heroines who dominate America’s mid-19th-century literary landscape. In a proto-feminist agenda, the female bildungsroman depicts the sentimental girl, a flawed, strong-willed, sometimes daring heroine who matures into a confident, capable young woman on the brink of marriage. The heroine of abolitionist, temperance and other reform literature portrays her more perfect sister, the redemptive girl, who feels deeply and speaks powerfully against slavery, poverty and domestic abuse from intemperance.”

 “Sentimental and Redemptive Girlhood maps sentimental and redemptive girlhood discourses through the analysis of an anti-slavery picture book that attempts to cast its heroine as both types of girls at once,” Lindey continued. ”This conflation forecasts a new type of activism, predicting heroines more powerful than the two types that sponsor them. This article analyzes how The Lamplighter Picture Book: or, the Story of Uncle True and Little Gerty, Written for the Little Folks (1856), which is the fifth in a series of anti-slavery picture books, coheres with the original bestselling sentimental novel and work within its adapted abolitionist drama. The illustrations and added poetry of the adaptation animate recognizable scenes of submission and ministration central to both discourses of girlhood, creating an impressive montage of the ways that feminist and abolitionist projects valued women and girls. Not only does the story depict the political roles that girls and women play but it also suggests ways to regulate the female.”

Children’s Literature Association Quarterly is a journal that has become increasingly high-impact and exclusive. This top-tier journal has an 18 percent acceptance rate. Editor Claudia Nelson reports that they received 111 submissions from May 2016 to May 2017, and typically publish 20 articles per year. She explains that “Currently the journal ranks 11th out of 638 Project Muse journals in terms of number of clicks, a slight slippage from the last several years when we have been in the top ten. Journal Scholar Metrics currently ranks the Quarterly 19th of 498 ‘core journals’ and 29th of 536 literature journals. JSM bills itself as measuring impact; the period covered in this study is 2010-2014.”

In her introduction to journal 43.1, Nelson writes, “We begin in the 19th century with Sara Lindey’s article ‘Sentimental and Redemptive Girlhood in the Abolitionist Adaptation of Maria Susanna Cummins’ The Lamplighter,’ an examination of an antislavery picture book based on Cummins’ lengthy 1854 best seller for older readers. Lindey finds that the rewriting of Cummins’ protagonist to associate her on the one hand with abolitionists and on the other hand with the enslaved works to ‘complicate the representation of sentimental girlhood with the values of redemptive girlhood,’ thus commingling ‘two girlhood discourses [that] share much of the same lexicon even as they access differing values.’ The resulting contradiction, Lindey argues, ‘reveals the greater conversation around defining and calibrating girlhood.’”

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Photo: Dr. Sara Lindey

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